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Phrase - No Introduction

Author: RK
Wednesday, 10 October 2007
Years on, Australian hip-hop is no doubt still in its infancy. Although it is Phrase who should be credited with a chunk of its growth, success and development. A youngster who got involved with graffiti and “all of that stuff,” he found himself trembling at the knees during his first ever performance on stage at Revolver. “When I was 17, I entered into this comp and kind of choked up there. I didn’t do so well but I got off that stage and realized that I loved it. The next year I came second out of about 70 entrants which really got me thinking about staying around music.”

Indeed, times were tough for years after that while Phrase carted furniture around as a removalist. “I got tired of having my balls broken so I went to the U.K and met Daniel Merriwether who encouraged me to do some songs. I signed with them and really, that’s when I think things looked interesting. To be honest, it was really a nerve racking time because there was this major label and expectations and all of that stuff. We even ended up getting distribution from like three of the four majors and right there I realized that my life was about to change. And then the hype dies down and it doesn’t do as well as you’d expect and then it’s all back to the same as before.”

Without getting dejected though, Phrase realized his biggest asset was his honesty. He had skills and he had the commitment. He went out on the road for a year and did a lot of shows with a lot of great crews. Likewise he got a bit involved in the perks of private parties and when it came to write, had to spend the time to get his writing back up. “Now I try and get a song a week done. I’m a lot more focused and I have a new drive to make it happen, so I’m thinking this should be a good year.”

And his new album should reflect that too. Burn It Down should be something new and different for Phrase. He explains: “the one thing I wanted to do when I sat down with my producer J-Scoobs was not to write another stock standard hip hop album. I’ve listened to how Jay-Z has done it – I wanted to do something outside the square. My approach was to make some good music and tell stories over it; at first I strayed away from that thinking it should be more black oriented, but in the end it developed a really different sound.”

There are a number of collaborations featuring on the album and reflected the fact that Phrase wanted to deliver something new. His work with Maestro and Saigon was behind him. This time he delivers material with Wendy Matthews for example; as well as Harry from The Cat Empire. “My love of music hasn’t changed – I’m a musician by training. For me it’s about reinventing myself and hopefully this new album takes that step in the right direction. Everything we’ve learnt will be reflected in that. Even our label, Crooked Eye should reflect our philosophy. It should be an artist friendly imprint. It’s taken us ages to find guys that we want to support and help get them off the ground. We want to do something that works for the artist and the person listening to it. No one is going to get ripped off.”